Architecture of Sustainability

Sunday, May 07, 2006

great Saturday dialogue

Is small the new big? We saw and heard a lot of things today that relate to the idea of small, thoughtful moves making a big difference.

Setting that aside (without getting into it, maybe later), there were also a lot of interesting voices in the conversation. Here are just a few that I heard in the mix:

James Timberlake: “We are adding things on to buildings in order to make them green— LEED bling. We need to move beyond this evolutionary process to a new green aesthetic.” (An aside as he was talking about the student housing at Middlebury College: “The windows, obviously, are operable.” Here’s to the obviousness of operable windows!)

Susan Szenasy: “I chafe under the word ‘sustainability,’ and ‘green’ doesn’t get it. We need to figure out how to build with humanity and all its creatures in mind and then we can call design design.”

Dan Nall: “What we are involved in here is trying to anticipate natural selection, which includes random variation and death. If we are going to anticipate this change in the environment, and the remorseless process that comes with maladaption, we are going to have to more remorseless ourselves in rejecting what are our own maladaptions.”

Jeanne Gang: “Embedding green into the concept from the beginning is critical. We have to address all building types and ways that people use the built environment. Part of our responsibility is getting this into the imagination of the public.”

Rus Perry: “We take the attitude that we are conveners; we bring in scientists and landscape specialists and field ecologists and chemists. This is where some humility comes in.”

Allison Ewing: “Part of sustainability is making sure that the solution is in proportion to the program. Rethinking the problem is part of the challenge in an ideas competition.”

Christof Jantzen: “Building green is building for people... it’s about ensuring optimal living and working conditions, which includes daylight and direct contact to the exterior. The design should be adaptable to future functions and technology.”

Lance Hosey: "Energy and envelope have received the most attention. Sustainability and structure has been left behind to date. .... There are four 'green' aesthetic strategies: ignored, independent, applied, and integrated. .... There are four architectural vocabularies: personal, epochal, regional, and circumstancial. I suggest that an architecture of sustainability can only be regional or circumstancial."

Oh, and someone asked how to subscribe to Metropolis magazine. You can go to and click on subscribe.


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